Friday, June 22, 2007

Working stiff

I’ve called many people crazy before, but today was my first experience with someone who is actually schizophrenic. Admittedly, I’m probably never supposed to use “crazy” in any professional area. But for all practical purposes, when people think “crazy” they are thinking of a schizophrenic individual. And today I met my first.

It was a relatively short encounter and really wasn’t as interesting as you might hope or expect. She’d been committed by her family and has been here for about a week. She seemed normal enough at first but as we interviewed her the answers she gave to our questions never seemed to quite add up. She’d go off on tangents and her stories would occasionally contract themselves. I think the biggest disconnect I noticed was that her cause and effect didn’t make any sense. She said one thing made another happen, when it was clear to everyone else that those things had no relation. It was kind of like an elaborate Wernicke’s aphasia: she was speaking gibberish but it seemed completely normal to her. Wernicke’s applies to actual gibberish words, but she had gibberish stories and responses.

Although that interview yielded little fruit, we did get blood samples from several patients to enter into our study. Although this is good for the project, it was relatively bad for me in that I spent four hours in the lab processing blood. I was quickly reminded why I gave up on biomedical research: it’s dead boring. It’s just a horrible mix of doing mindless things (labeling test tubes) difficult things (using complex equipment) frustrating things (perfectly separating two layers of solution) and of course waiting. Watch as I become a professional researcher.

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